You mean, the company that would cut you loose in about three seconds flat if you became unproductive?
Employment is an economic transaction. If you pay me, I will do high-quality, honest work for you. That's fair. If I don't produce, you can stop paying me. That's fair. But if you don't pay me well, or mistreat me, I'm going to leave. That's also fair.
I'm guessing the reason for the entire post is actually that while Calacanis is okay firing someone, he gets angry if anyone leaves his company for a better position. There was a kerfluffle over that yesterday in various parts of the net (someone from his company sent a 2-weeks notice, and he blew up, firing them and telling them they had their last day and never set foot in the office or email his staff again). I'm guessing his tweet of 23 hours ago is due to him still being pissed at someone jumping ship from Mahalo.
Edit: It came to mind that there's a perfectly capitalist way of solving the problem, for companies that really do hate the idea of someone leaving: sign an employment contract with time terms, rather than hiring at-will employees. :)
(Because you certainly didn't expect me to agree to that clause for free, did you? No, you're going to pay. And the sooner you lock me in, the more you'd better pay if I can't even evaluate the job before the lockin starts.)
Solution: If you want people to stay at your company, then pay them reasonable amounts and don't be a dickhead.
Assuming that your employees aren't clueless (ie. know their market rate) and are free to leave (eg. not family members or H1-Bs), then you'll see significant employee churn if:
$ < $market x -------------
Apple, for example, has a high asshattery factor (Steve Jobs) and market rate (they want awesome people) but also has a huge cool factor to balance it out somewhat (I heard they pay ~1.5x market).
Banks, Traders, Insurance companies, etc. have low cool factor, so they have to make it up with large salaries and perks and not be too toxic to work at.
In the case of Mahalo, it seems like they have a large asshattery factor (Calcanis is an overbearing idiot who will post nasty things about you on Twitter), and cool factor < 1 (spammers) and (it seems) they pay below market rates, so it's not suprising that they're seeing lots of "job hoppers".
Why anyone would willingly work for someone like that is beyond me. You're setting yourself up for abuse, ensuring other employees are abused in the process.
In my view, once you post something ugly about any of your employees, you lose your ability to hire any non-desperate (let alone loyal) employees forever.
I'd word it as "would willingly work for very long"....
So, I came aboard. The principals had just left for an extended sabbatical (they departed shortly after I interviewed with them). Morale seemed excellent when I started, and there was a great deal of interesting work to be done. When they returned, the mood changed very quickly, and it didn't take long to understand why.
I spent enough time there to do some interesting things, and help them over a knowledge slump during an infrastructure forklift, but it quickly became apparent that the owners and I had different ideas about how people should be treated, and how businesses should conduct themselves. My personal google-fu failed me on this one.
I showed myself the door to take a position that I would have never otherwise considered taking, knowing full well how that would look on a resume, but also knowing I didn't want to continue contributing to their bottom line.
(I have a few items on my resume I do not enjoy discussing in an interview, and I've had to add this one to the list: being vague or evasive suggests you're hiding something, but any real explanation just invites the idea that you're the kind of guy who doesn't work well with others. But, such is life.)
"That awesome gal you hired in engineering has job options and she knows it."
I can totally imagine him lobbying for more H1-B visas so he can get "captive" employees who are stuck without options to leave.
If I need to launch a complex product in 6 months or die, I don't care whether my senior developer had his entire family die from serial dysentery. You're either working as hard as you can getting us to the milestone, or you're not a developer here.
The truth is that being "loyal" will kill a startup.
Actually, I know what kind of psychopath: the kind who ran the only startup I ever joined. He once told me, "I am at war, and if one of my men can't keep up, I will shoot him." A remarkably similar sentiment to yours! He also used to phone people up and yell at them if they didn't stay till midnight or come in on weekends.
Needless to say (or so I would have hoped), this is an algorithm to produce not a "complex product" but a fiasco, and that is exactly what happened. I was long gone before then, though. What kind of leader shoots his own men? What kind of people want to work for a leader who shoots his own men, or doesn't care if their families die? I know what kind: scared, servile placators. And since such a team hardly makes for startup success, there really isn't an argument here, only a form of hypnosis.
I also am, however, very pro truth.
Anyone who tells you he can have employees with low or zero productivity, for whatever reason, as select members of a small, highly leveraged startup - is either lying to you, or will fail unless he's extremely lucky not to have such employees.
If your team consists of 3 senior developers, and one of them stops producing, your project will likely be pushed back a third or more over schedule. This can easily kill a startup, since if your idea has any merit at all (which is your only chance of success anyway), then you have ten other teams competing against you to launch first.
I totally agree that employees should be respected and cared for, and that a key employee leaving a startup is generally the startup's fault. However, if someone doesn't work out, he will be let go. Not just by the employer - his co-workers will call for his head, since his problems (whether he's to blame for them, or not) endanger the entire team.
If I need to launch a complex product in 6 months or die, I don't care whether my senior developer had his entire family die from serial dysentery.
Yeah, yeah - really respectful and caring.
"Respect and care" means among other things, that you keep your business running so it can respect and care for the majority of employees. If you're going to take things to extreme, why then I need to "respect" every candidate by hiring, and "care" for any employee who just feels like taking a 20-month meditation trip to Tibet, since the woes of this modern world are depressing him.
The fact remains the same: a lean, highly leveraged startup can't allow developers to go off on vacations for 3-6+ months, no matter how badly they need it. Hell, if you're that kind of startup, those 3-6 months may very well be your entire product (or life!) cycle.
Also, taking that sort of hard-nosed attitude will make the other developers on your team more wary, which will result in higher salaries, more turnover and (if you're a real idiot) no new staff, since word gets around. Ultimately you depend on your staff, so if you play hardball you're likely to reap the 'benefits' further down the track when you need them.
* - this was your original point, not some "meditation trip to Tibet"
And yes, anyone expecting any kind of job security at a startup, especially a VC backed one, is simply fooling himself.
If you're developing an innovative product for the iPhone market, you can be sure that it won't be "innovative" in a year, especially if it was a good idea to begin with. Not to mention that in a year, such a fast market will move so far, that your original business model will be outdated in significant ways, because your price point, features, and target audience analysis are now all obsolete.
Even without that, though - you realize that VC-backed startups are a huge chunk of the startup sphere? In fact, the author of this article is a VC, and probably most of this article was written with VC-backed startups in mind.
If you are an early startup employee, you normally get compensated primarily with equity. Hence, you are the company; hurting the company will just hurt you. There's a big difference between an economic transaction between you and a big company, and an economic transaction which is largely between you and yourself.